1 Samuel 21-22

What A Way To Start A Kingdom!

“Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him.” ­– 1 Samuel 22:2 NASB

David is on the run. Saul is out to kill him and David has no choice but to high-tail it out of town. But these two chapters reveal more than David’s travel itinerary during these early days as an outcast. They reveal some of his weaknesses. We get to see some areas of David’s life in which God is going to have to work if David is going to be the kind of king God intends for him to be. As soon as David leaves he ends up in Nob, where he seeks aid from Ahimelech the priest. David concocts a story in order to get Ahimelech to help him and walks away with the bread of the Presence, right out of the Tabernacle, and the sword of Goliath. Jesus Himself uses this story as an example to teach that compassion for the needs of men took precedence over the legalistic adherence to the Law (Matthew 12:2; 4). But Jesus was in no way justifying David’s lying. He was using the actions of Ahimelech, the priest, in feeding David, as a justification of His healing the needy on the Sabbath. David’s lie would have ramifications. It would result in the senseless slaughter of Ahimelech and 84 other priests as well as the destruction of the city of Nob and all its inhabitants. David got food and a sword, but he compromised the safety of an entire town.

Next, David did something that reveals his desperation and lack of leading by God. He straps on the sword of Goliath, the Philistine champion he had killed, and heads straight to the recently deceased Philistine’s hometown of Gath. We aren’t told what David was thinking, but it seems insane. Which is exactly what David has to pretend he is when he gets there because the residents warn the king of Gath that he should not trust David. They know who he is and what he has done. Fearing for his life, David feigns insanity, drooling into his beard and acting like a madman. King Achish allows David to leave probably because in that culture the insane were a bad omen and avoided at all costs. From there, David flees to the cave of Adullum. Here is when things get really interesting. David, the anointed king of Israel find himself hiding in a remote cave in the wilderness of Adullum. And the passage tells us that he suddenly finds himself surrounded by a rag-tag and of misfits and malcontents. The Message describes them this way: “all who were down on their luck came around–losers and vagrants and misfits of all sorts.” The New American Standard describes them as the distressed, indebted, and discontented. What a way to start a kingdom! David is surrounded by people with all kinds of problems. They have been abused by Saul’s reign. They have personally experienced what God had warned them about when they demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:11-18).

These early days of David’s exile are not pretty. They do not paint a flattering picture of Israel’s future king. But they do reflect a man who is being personally trained by God and having all his weaknesses exposed in order to transform him into the kind of king God desires. David was NOT a perfect man, but he was a man after God’s own heart. He had a love for God. He had a desire to serve God. But we see that he was as flawed as the next man. He was impulsive, fearful, struggled with faith at times, and prone to fits of melancholy. But we also see that David took personal responsibility. Unlike Saul, who was always blaming everyone else for his sins, David took ownership. When he finds out that Saul has murdered Ahimelech and all the priests in Nob, David confesses to Abiathar, the lone survivor, “I have brought about the death of every person in your father’s household” (1 Samuel 22:22 NLT). We are seeing God’s slow, steady transformation of a man into the kind of man He desires. Transformation requires transparency, or the exposure of our flaws. It requires brokenness so that we will learn to confess or sinfulness. It requires the removal of all the other props on which we lean, so that we will lean more and more on God. God was transforming David and He is transforming us. Can you see His hand at work? Sometimes we can’t, but we can rest assured that He is always at work – using every event in our lives to do His will in our lives.

Father, thank You for Your sovereign rule and reign in my life. Thank You for reminding me that I am a work in process. You are not done with me yet. You are constantly molding and making me into the kind of man You intend for me to be. You use each and every circumstance to expose my weaknesses and failings. You are always breaking me, so that I might be more like Your Son. But You are always loving me too. You are at work in my life each and every day. Help me to see Your hand in every circumstance of life. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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